Shades of Black

Two exhibits I’m definitely going to catch this month at the Smithsonian Institution museums:

IndiVISIBLE: AFRICAN-NATIVE AMERICAN LIVES IN THE AMERICAS
Opens November 10. I got the heads up about this one a few weeks ago from Phoebe Farris who has an essay in the exhibition catalog. Click on the title or here to see the on-line exhibit and resources.

The history of African Native peoples is as rich as it is complicated. It’s the race thing, nationality, culture, and even class. Dual identity isn’t as complicated as people may think especially if you have the attitude of “it’s all good” with you and the ancestors.

But being is one thing. Belonging is another. There are African Americans who talk a lot about their Native American ancestors. And in return they get the skeptic’s eye. At the same time, there are Native American communities that do not claim African Native peoples, but embrace Euro-Indians. I’ve heard these stories of divide. I’ve also heard stories where every member of the tribe/community is embraced. But will Denzel Washington get to dance with wolves?

IndiVISIBLE is going to be an important exhibit and I’m certain it will be well-attended. It may answer some questions, set some records straight, perhaps form new connections towards belonging.

There’s a series of programs on Friday, November 13:
1 PM – 2:30 PM (Workshop) Blended Families: Tracing African-Native American Genealogy
3 PM – 6 PM (Symposium) IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas

…and Saturday, November 14 from 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM, there’s a “Meet the Curator” program.

The exhibit and all the events take place at the National Museum of the American Indian at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue, SW on the national mall. The museum’s website is www.nmai.si.edu.

THE AFRICAN PRESENCE IN MEXICO: FROM YANGA TO THE PRESENT
Opens November 9 at the Anacostia Community Museum. This exhibit comes to DC via the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The exhibit features the art and culture of Afro-Mexicans, a community that evolved from the trans-Atlantic slave trade or adventurers seeking fortunes with a little help to collect it. Yanga is the name of the hero/slave rebel from Mexico’s colonial era. WHO ARE WE NOW?: ROOTS, RESISTANCE AND RECOGNITION accompanies the exhibit charting the history of African and Mexican American relationships in the US and African American relationships with Mexico.

If anyone’s familiar with Mexican casta painting from the 18th century — an artistic way of keeping track of race mixing by race mapping — one may see yet another series of complicated relationships in being and belonging.

The Anacostia Community Museum is located 1905 Fort Place, SE and is open daily from 10 – 5 PM. Directions are available here.

And while you’re there November 14th and 15th, be sure to check out Juanita Britton‘s Black Holiday Ornaments Sale at her Anacostia Art Gallery & Boutique. There will be a tree trimming celebration. The gallery is just a hop and a skip away from the Anacostia Community Museum. Trust me. You can’t miss it. Visit www.bzbinternational.com.

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